Marshmallows. Small, spongy and light, these cylindrical sweets originated in 2000 BC in ancient Egypt as a delicacy meant for royalty, as they were handmade. They were made individually with the sap of the mallow plant (Althea officinalis) combined with honey and nuts. As to how the word “marshmallows” came about, marshes are the native growing ground for the mallow plant – when put together, the words “marshes” and “mallow” give us “marshmallow”.
In the 19th century, the marshmallow took on a new form when the French mixed sugar and egg whites with the sap of the mallow plant. Shortly after, the recipe was tweaked to use gelatin instead. This allowed the marshmallow mixture to retain its fluffy form while reducing the laborious process of extracting sap from the mallow plant. In later years, the gelatin was combined with sugar, corn syrup, starch and water to create the modern marshmallow. Food for thought, if you have ever wondered about the history of marshmallows.
Today, marshmallows are an everyday treat in various colours, shapes (Christmas trees, Easter bunnies, Hello Kitty) and sizes (the large ones are great for campfire roasting). They come in different flavours and are used in a variety of recipes – breakfast spreads, in cookies and cakes, for cupcake frosting, as pizza and casserole toppings, etc.
At JOandJARS, we love putting large marshmallows on sticks, then wrapping them individually to be displayed as marshmallow bouquets in various colours like pink, white, yellow, green or peach. These are always a hit at parties with children and adults alike – some call them our “marshmallow pops”! Of course, if clients specifically ask for mini marshmallows at their wedding reception, we will arrange for the mini marshmallows to be nicely displayed in an apothecary glass jar. Mini marshmallows usually come in an all-white bag, or in a colourful pack of pink, yellow, peach, green and white.
However, did you know that marshmallows help soothe sore throats? Rest assured that this is not the reason that clients request for our marshmallow bouquets to be one of the food items in their candy buffets!
Even though we have tried it, we are not entirely sure how this cheap remedy works. Best part? It can be even cheaper if you have the recipe to make your own marshmallows! Perhaps it is the gelatin binding the marshmallow together that makes it easy to swallow. Also, marshmallows do not have the very high sugar content of hard candies that cause phlegm, or the jagged edges that can hurt your throat. What we experienced was, even though it hurt to swallow almost everything, the marshmallow slid down our throat so smoothly and provided instant relief. Since marshmallows are much tastier than throat lozenges, no harm popping a few in your mouth the next time you feel a sore throat coming to soothe your pain and throat irritation.
Here is a tip: to prevent your marshmallows from hardening, keep them in an airtight box containing brown sugar.